Thursday, August 2, 2007

Fuji F30

To compliment my DSLR system I bought a Fuji F30 just after it came out. It got rave reviews for excellent lens sharpness as well as unsurpassed performance at high ISO's in the digital P&S market. A feat which still hasn't been matched by any other manufacturer. I got along great with the camera and I took plenty of good shots with it. It was small, light, and I hardly even noticed it in my pocket. As advertised the lens was very sharp and it performed excellent at higher ISO's (nothing compared to a DSLR though). Battery life is fantastic too at around 500 shots or so. For a a while I used the camera a lot and in many situations where I normally would have used my DSLR. The longer I owned it though the less I used it, favoring my DSLR for all but true P&S situations.

One of my major gripes with the camera was the lack of a historgram; either live or in play back mode. It's just not possible to properly judge the exposure looking at the screen on back of the camera, particularly in bright sunlight. This left me with plenty of pictures that turned out to have badly blown highlights. There are no full manual controls either, although it does offer AV and TV modes; though I find them kind of clunky to use. The control wheel on top of the camera was too easy to turn and it seemed to never be on the mode I left it on when I put it in my pocket. The purple fringing everyone talks about wasn't horrible in normal use but it was a little annoying at times; made worse by the blown highlights from the lack of a histogram. What it really boiled down to for me was that the F30 was set up to be used as a P&S camera and I wanted something that offered more control.

A few weeks ago I started thinking about replacing it and I started researching my options. I wanted something that gave real manual controls and also had a hot shoe so I could use it with external flash. I knew I'd be giving up the great high ISO performance but felt that I could make up the difference by getting a camera with image stabilization. I realized that I very rarely shot the camera at over 400 ISO and if image stabilization gave me an extra two stops I could still shoot at ISO 100 in those situations.

I also wanted something that could actually stand in for my DSLR when I was backpacking or traveling light when I didn't want the extra weight and bulk. In the end it took two more cameras to give me what I wanted. So far so good with both of them but only time will tell if they were really an answer to a problem or just a temporary patch. I realize that the F30 is capable of remarkable results and I've seen people over come its limitations with some incredible pictures. Hopefully though these new cameras will better serve my needs for a longer period of time and will help me create some the shots I feel I've been missing.

Still though, if you're just looking for a small P&S that can easily fit in your pocket and give tremendous results then the F30 is definitely something to look at; though it's now been replaced by the F31 fd which is supposed to be pretty darn good as well.

More to come on the new arrivals soon!

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